Last week, Whitt and I attended a Big Boi and Killer Mike concert at D.C.’s Howard Theater. Trackstar invited us because we’re friends and partially because we threatened to unfollow him on Twitter – the truest form of disrespect into today’s world – if he visited The District again for work and not get up with us.
Nevertheless, Mike launched into a dialogue in between songs where he spoke on his grandmother and her devout relationship with the church. I’ve been to church enough times with my own grandmother and seen her reaction to know God is real. I’ve seen her beat breast cancer to know the power of prayer is real. Being blessed with her presence every day for 27 years, I’ve grown to witness an image of God in her. The same way I have in other people who’ve changed my life for the better. And like Mike, the love for our grandmothers gave us that relationship with church even if our bonds with the place were anything but firm.
“But I’m a man, I ain’t perfect
That’s a poor excuse that ain’t workin’
I asked Him for forgiveness, for every sin I commit
Hopefully He gonna let me stay on His list
And tryin’ and get to heaven…”
I’ve worked on my spirituality immensely over the past two or three years. I’ve needed to. I’ve even attended church more, despite long gaps in between visits occurring occasionally. Church remains a relatively “new” environment. The speakers aren’t my motivation, neither is assimilating myself into the community. That much I could care less about, which could present part of the problem. Instead, the reason for attending revolves around a promise to my mother and grandmother. And hopefully to have an awakening in the ilk of what Scarface described on “Heaven” (from 2002’s The Fix) through my own personal journey.
Regardless whether the odyssey meets its landing point in my lifetime, somehow, someway, like Mike, music continues to serve as my amazing grace. Rap, R&B, jazz, soul, it’s all choir practice and Sunday service when created in its most honest habitat. The same way pastors play integral roles in lives across the country spreading messages of hope, faith and love are reflected in the same manner someone like Scarface, or Pac, or OutKast, or Kanye, or Marvin Gaye, or Donny Hathaway have provided me the closest adaptation to an out-of-body spiritual experience. The only difference is their flaws were openly embraced and used as teaching points.
Can they be considered perfect role models? Never in a million years, but the last I’ve heard only one person’s been able to walk on water and he was killed, too, for expressing beliefs that made others uncomfortable. On the surface, making excuses for not being a frequent churchgoer, or possibly a heathen in some who’ll come across this, may come off as my M.O. It’s far from that. It’d also be hard to fault anyone for believing such. Then again, requesting outside acceptance with my choices is the last worry I’ll ever invest time in.
Perchance, in the future, trips to church will increase in consistency. Time changes everything in life, including man’s willingness to embrace new routines. I do believe in God. As said earlier, I do believe in the power of prayer. And I do believe music can legitimately masquerade as the world’s greatest spiritual cleansing process.
We’ll often go months without listening to a select record. Quiet as kept, it sits nestled comfortably in iTunes waiting for its number to be called. Said song harbors the innate ability to lie dormant until the absolute ideal time when its message coincides with a particular mood. We believe we do, but we never control when its played.
Consider Brad Jordan’s “Heaven” a perfect example.
Scarface Ft. Kelly Price – “Heaven”